Diabetes can harm your eyes. It can damage the small blood vessels in your retina, the back part of your eye. This is called diabetic retinopathy. Diabetes also increases your risk of having glaucoma, cataracts, and other eye problems.
You may not know there is any damage to your eyes until the problem is very bad. Your doctor can catch problems early if you get regular eye exams.
If your doctor finds eye problems early, drugs and other treatments may help prevent them from getting worse.
Every year, you should have an eye exam by an eye doctor. Choose an eye doctor who takes care of people with diabetes.
The eye exam may include:
Your eye doctor may ask you to come more or less often than every year.
Control your blood sugar levels. High blood sugars increase your risk of having eye problems.
Control your blood pressure. Blood pressure less than 130/80 is a good goal for people with diabetes.
Do not smoke. If you need help quitting, ask your doctor or nurse.
If you already have eye problems, ask your doctor if you should avoid some exercises that can strain the blood vessels in your eyes. These exercises may make eye problems worse:
Make sure your home is safe from falls.
If you cannot read the labels on your medicines easily, these tips might help you make sure you are taking the correct medicine and the correct dose:
Never guess when taking your medicines. If you are unsure of your doses, talk with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.
Keep medicines and other household items organized in a cabinet so you know where they are.
Use large-print cookbooks to make foods that are on your diabetes meal plan. Ask your doctor or nurse where you can get these books.
Call your doctor if:
Diabetic retinopathy - care
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Inzucchi SE, Sherwin RS. Type 1 diabetes mellitus. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 236.
Inzucchi SE, Sherwin RS. Type 2 diabetes mellitus. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 237.
Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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